Palsy (Gr. παράλυσις, which, however, only occurs in the New Testament in the adjective form παραλυτικός, etc., one smitten with palsy) is properly a disorder which deprives the limbs of sensation or motion, or both; and it is usually attended with imbecility of mind — nor is this to be wondered at, since its immediate cause is a compression on the brain. The palsy of the New Testament is a disease of very wide import. Many infirmities seem to have been comprehended under it.
1. The Apoplexy, a paralytic shock which affected the whole body.
2. The Hemiplegy, which affects and paralyzes only one side of the body.
3. The Paraplegy, which paralyzes all the parts of the system below the neck.
4. The Catalepsy is caused by a contraction of the muscles in the whole or part of the body (e.g. in the hands), and is very dangerous.
The effects upon the parts seized are very violent and deadly. For instance, when a person is struck with it, if his hand happens to be extended, he is unable to draw it back. If the hand is not extended when he is struck with the disease, he is unable to extend it. It appears diminished in size and dried up. Hence the Hebrews were in the habit of calling it a, withered hand (1Ki 13:4,6; Zec 11:17; Mt 12:10-13; Joh 5:3). 5. The Cramp. This, in Oriental countries, is a fearful malady, and by no means unfrequent. It is caused by the chills of the night. The limbs, when seized with it, remain immovable; sometimes turned in, and sometimes out, in the same position as when they were first seized. The person afflicted resembles a man undergoing the torture, and experiences nearly the same exquisite sufferings (Mt 8:6; Lu 7:2). Our Savior is recorded to have miraculously cured several paralytics (Mt 4:24; Mt 8:13; Mt 9:2,6; Mr 2:3-4; Lu 5:18; Joh 5:5). SEE PARALYTIC.